Unit Lines are from Movement Writing years ago

Adam Frost icemandeaf at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 10 18:58:15 UTC 2007

I totally agree with you after using them a little and then reading what I wrote. I was worried that there might be a point that too is much going on. But after reading what you said, I think that it will just get to the point where things that aren't really needed will be dropped. So I will stop trying to simplify things too quickly, or maybe I'll just experiment some more. ;-)


-----Original Message-----
From: "Valerie Sutton" <signwriting at MAC.COM>

Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 11:34:51 
To:sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
Subject: [sw-l] Unit Lines are from Movement Writing years ago

SignWriting List
July 10, 2007

Adam Frost wrote:
> I just used it as a way to show that a facial expression and  
> whatnot is consistant over a couse of signs, but you are right that  
> is loses the feel of being an everyday writing system. I will think  
> on this some for ideas. :-)

Hi Adam -
Yes. I understand the reason that you used it, and that is fine for  
research...so please know I understand ;-))

It is great to see your knowledge of SignWriting...

I just wanted to share with you that I personally do not want to use  
Unit Lines in everyday writing...I believe it can hurt the everyday  
reading experience, because they actually confuse the direction of  

Let me explain...

Imagine opening a large SignWriting document. You start reading down  
the vertical columns, and when you come to the end of the Unit Line,  
you would have to look back up to find where it began, to find the  
Facial Expression that is ending, and that stops the reading for  
meaning...and makes it feel more like an exercise in reading Movement  

So for proficient reading, we need to keep the flow of the reading  
going in the same direction without having to refer back to  
anything...that is my experience reading long documents with the Unit  

The Parkhursts used the Unit Line in their 140 page novel, and as you  
know, their novel is absolutely wonderful! The first in SignWriting  
history, to have a novel written in Spanish Sign Language.

When I sat down to read the novel, I found that it confused my  
reading flow when there was a Unit Line... I had to go back to find  
where the Unit line began to even remember what was influencing the  
unit, because I was trying to figure out what they were saying in  
Spanish Sign Language, rather than reading it as a Movement Writing  

If we think about how little detail we write when writing English, it  
is amazing how much we understand anyway. Right now, I am not writing  
voice intonation, while writing English, or whether my voice remains  
at high pitch or low pitch at different times...if we had to write a  
unit line to show that my voice remains high for these five words,  
and low for the next five words, that feels more like research or  
perhaps music or dance, than a written language...

Just my thoughts...

As far as one Facial Expression lasting over several signs...most of  
the time now, there are Facial Circles over most signs anyway, so I  
would just write the same Facial Expression over all the signs that  
use it...that is easy and compact...the reader who is reading quickly  
will have no question what is happening with each sign...no referring  
back to the facial expression at the beginning of the Unit Line...


Val ;-)

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